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Nancy Okerlund
Volume 3, Issue 10, 09/17/09

"She's Very Ingoing!"

I'm in the middle of creating a talk (working title: Love Those Introverts!) so I've been doing homework. I came across a reference to introverts as "ingoing".

In the U.S., of course, we're very familiar with the word "outgoing". In fact it's the way to be.

The more I thought about it, a few days ago, the more it seemed "outgoing" and "ingoing" could almost be stand-ins for "extrovert" and "introvert". Extroverts focus out. Introverts focus in. It's way more complex than that, of course. But I was liking the simple clarity. Some of us are outgoing, some of us are ingoing.

Today I'm in the library, so I decided to look in a real dictionary (as opposed to dictionary.com, bless its heart). I asked where the big dictionaries are (the one I usually use wasn't in its stand).

The librarian took me to a shelf and pointed out what he called the monster, which is the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary (plus three volumes of "new work in progress"). And he showed me the two-volume Oxford, also a monster by my standards.

I give you all these dictionary details because I'm realizing this is a little story about "ingoing". The truth is, lover though I am of words, I've never taken the time to make friends with a dictionary.

In my mid-twenties I got a big American Heritage dictionary for my birthday one year and I bet it was my favorite present I still use it all the time.

When the librarian pointed out that long row of the 20-volume monster (and the volumes are all hefty), my first response was shock. But almost immediately I felt a little thrill. It was the kind I get when I walk into a bookstore.

I've trained myself to be very focused in bookstores. I almost never browse. If I let myself follow my natural inclination (as a hopeless lover of books) I'd be there when the store closed, busily being ingoing.

I saw that 20-volume dictionary (including the three smaller "new work in progress" addendums) and thought, "Wow!!" Luckily it was way over my head and the two-volume baby monster was right at eye level - so I picked the baby monster. A little reluctantly, but knowing that only a quick peek at the big monster would be even more disappointing.

As it was, I had to tear myself away from the two-volume. It was twice as big as the one I usually use on the stand and made me want to make friends with a dictionary, even maybe my old American Heritage.

Here's what I found about ingoing and outgoing: between 1930 and 1960 a new definition of outgoing emerged: "Extrovert, sociable, open-hearted, friendly." The timing makes sense, since Jung coined the terms extrovert and introvert in the 20s.

I was, of course, not surprised to find no comparable definition of ingoing from that time.

Here's one for ingoing that showed up between 1920 and 1929, though: "Penetrating, thorough." I can identify.

Of course, just because the two-volume Oxford Dictionary doesn't have a nice definition of ingoing that matches the outgoing one doesn't mean it shouldn't be there.

And who knows, maybe the 20-volume edition explains all about it that it's missing only because there isn't enough consciousness about the importance of ingoing as a way of being yet.

In the meantime, maybe I'll let myself sit down with one of those "new work in progress" addendums one of these days, just for the fun of it.

End of food for thought on to some practical ideas:

A Practical Idea for Introverts

Say to yourself, "I'm very ingoing!" a few times, like you're bragging, and see what you notice :-).

A Practical Idea for Extroverts

Think of an introvert in your life and say to yourself, in an admiring way, "Wow, she/he's so ingoing!" and see what you notice :-).

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